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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    350 students evacuated

    350 students evacuated

    More than 350 students were evacuated from Apache-Santa Cruz Residence Hall yesterday morning after an ammonia spill preceded a fire alarm.

    Tucson Fire Department arrived at the dorm, near East Sixth Street and North Highland Avenue, at about 4 a.m. and found ammonia spilled on a carpet in the hallway of the second floor, said Paul McDonough, deputy chief of TFD.

    A discharged fire extinguisher triggered the alarm, and everyone in the building was evacuated, said Sgt. Eugene Mejia, public information officer for the University of Arizona Police Department.

    Students returned to their dorms around 8:15 a.m., after the substance was deemed non-toxic, said Jim Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life.

    Colleen Kate Maguire, a pre-business freshman, said she spent two hours waiting in the Highland Market across the street before going over to Pueblo de la Cienega Residence Hall, 621 N. Highland Ave., to sleep on the floor in a friend’s room.

    “”It was just pretty frustrating waiting out there, not knowing what was going on,”” she said.

    Al Rubalos, an employee at Highland Market, said when he arrived at work at 6 a.m. about 50 or 60 students were congregated in the market.

    “”I know there were more before that, but because of the fire code and maximum occupancy limits we couldn’t have the whole dorm hanging out in here,”” he said. “”Most of the students were just sitting down, eating and looking like they wanted to go to bed.””

    Residence Life opened up its El Portal office building nearby for students to occupy between 4 and 8 a.m.

    “”Of course, it was a disruption because many students were sleeping or studying, but safety is our primary concern and we had to make sure no one was harmed,”” Arsdel said.

    UA Alert, the university’s emergency text message system, sent out three messages informing students of the evacuation at 4:41, 7:15 and 7:41 a.m.

    In addition, an update on the situation was posted in the Parent and Family section of the Dean of Students Office Web site.

    Parents were instructed to call the office for more information.

    Attempts to reach the Dean of Students Office yesterday were unsuccessful.

    Angela Seidler, a Near Eastern studies senior who lives off-campus, said she woke up after receiving a UA Alert text at 7:15 a.m.

    “”I thought, ‘Who the hell is calling me so early?'”” she said. “”Then I read the text and it was so vague, so I was concerned.””

    The texts did not say why students were evacuated and the cause of the spill is still being investigated, Mejia said.

    Seidler said she found out it was an ammonia spill later in the day, after arriving on campus.

    “”I think they should have only notified the people who were affected by it,”” she said. “”The text made it sound like a bigger deal than it actually was.””

    – Tom Knauer contributed to this report

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